Written by Robyn A. Mainor
As a Partners in the Field representative, it is rewarding to participate in events spotlighting commitment to preservation of resources saved through local efforts and expertise. Friday, May 15th, 2009, was a long-awaited day for Historic Augusta, Inc. as the Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson was officially unveiled as Augusta’s newest National Historic Landmark. Announced in October 2008, Historic Augusta was eager to have the celebration during the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s Annual Meeting and Spring 2009 Ramble so preservationists from across the state would have a unique event to attend.
Augusta is home to five other National Historic Landmarks including the Old Medical College of Georgia and the Augusta Canal Industrial District. A crowd of more than seventy out of town guests and local enthusiasts gathered on the front lawn of 419 Seventh Street to watch as Mr. Ray Rivera and Ms. Vicki Dixon, both from the Department of the Interior, revealed the plaque and congratulated Historic Augusta’s Executive Director, Erick D. Montgomery, and First Vice President, Mr. Robert Osborne. After the ceremony, tours were given for all those who attended to highlight the award winning restoration which was completed in 2001, ten years after the house was purchased in 1991.
The Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson was built in 1859 by local stove merchant, Aaron H. Jones, a native of Eastport, Maine. The new house was sold for $10,000 in February, 1860 to the Trustees of the First Presbyterian Church. The Wilson Family moved into their new home soon after it was purchased. At the time, the family included the parents, Joseph and Janet Woodrow Wilson, also known as Jessie and Jeanie, two sisters, Marion (9) and Annie (6), and three year old Thomas Woodrow Wilson, called Tommy. Later, in 1867, a fourth child would be born in the house, Joseph R. Wilson, Jr. The house is two and one-half stories high, built of solid brick, and enhanced with a small portico on the front with balconies on either side. It had gas lights, 12 foot ceilings with plaster moldings and a fireplace in every room. Detached in the back yard was a two story brick service building that contained a modern 1860s kitchen, a laundry room, a wood storage room and two servant's rooms on the second floor. Across the back yard was a carriage house with a second floor hayloft where Tommy met with his friends of the Lightfoot Baseball Club. Here they practiced parliamentary procedure and operated under a set of bylaws drawn up by the future president. The Wilsons lived in the house for almost eleven years, witnessing the Civil War and Reconstruction.
The Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson is open for tours Tuesday through Saturday 10am thru 5pm. More information can be found through their website, www.wilsonboyhoodhome.org and www.historicaugusta.org.
Robyn A. Mainor is the Preservation Services Director for Historic Augusta, Inc., and a Field Representative in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
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